Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Victorianesque Hallowe'en: Costume Ideas

There is a lot more to Victorian Hallowe'en costumes than tossing on a bustle skirt
and corset or top hat and tails. While in and of themselves, these are great ideas
for costumes this time of year, this is also an opportunity to use some imagination
and make your Victorianesque costume far more personal and unique from all the other
large garden party hats, small boaters, top hats, long skirts, long coats and walking

If you are looking to affect a Victorian look this year (or any year, really), peruse
the readily available lists of Victorian characters found in literature and history.
An afternoon in a library or browsing online will provide ideas from the many "sub-
eras" of Victoriana. If you gaze at a timeline of fashions during the reign of our
dear Queen Vic, dresses varied from enormous bell-shaped skirts with crenalines to
the more exaggerated and then subdued narrowed, aproned and bustled skirts in the
latter portion of the era. And just as fashions changed, so did the heros and
heroines of some of the period's finest authors.
Even some of the authors themselves were visibly unique and recognizable. Who
wouldn't recognize these favourites: Oscar Wilde, Poe, Lovecraft, Twain? Not only did
they give us some of the most culture-shaping literature, they set many standards in
our minds as to the look of the era.
Just a very few characters that spring to mind:
  • Oliver Twist
  • Captain Bly
  • Sherlock Holmes
  • Doctor Watson
  • Queen Victoria, herself
  • Constable
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel
  • Miss Havisham (Great Expectations)
  • Toad (Wind in the Willows) - Don't laugh too hard. I've seen this one done well.
  • Sweeney Todd
  • Mrs Lovett

And my favourite ones, borrowed from another rather popular holiday:
  • Ebenezer Scrooge
  • Jacob Marley
  • The Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come
  • Bob Cratchet
I mean, honestly, ghosts.. What is more fitting at Hallowe'en?

The idea is to find your favourite representation of the holiday if you are hunting
for just the right costume for your Victorianesque Hallowe'en. Nearly everyone has
that one character or author that stood out most to them from a very early age. It is
not always necessary to make your Victorian character a vampire, unless he's Dracula
and unless that is what you are going for. Hmmm... a vampiric Holmes. I wonder if
that's been done? Miss Havisham as a zombie.. after all, the poor thing never did
take off that wedding dress...
Take a little time and peruse the costume stores. Victorianesque burlesque is to be
found everywhere, and while I think the look is adorable, it is hardly unique. It
can, however, be adapted however you wish. Just like anything else. One of my
favourites a few years ago, the Gothic circus ringmaster in his top hat and tails.
Reminded me a bit of Mr. Dark from Ray Bradbury's "Something Wicked This Way Comes."
As always, the possibilities are endless. So off to the library with you.. or, well,
Firefox or Explorer and Google. Have fun with it, and please.. if you do run with an
idea, by all means.. share photos. I'll post them here for all to see.
Thinking I need to look into that Mrs Lovett outfit again... after all, we will be
having a family Hallowe'en dinner here, I will be cooking.. and we will be having
Until next,

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